Monthly Archives: February 2011

I Will Run To You My Refuge

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Tonight I had something happen to me that nearly caused me to cry on the spot. I went into panic mode for a brief second, then shock for several minutes, and was eventually able to regain composure and continue on. What happened was so small and insignificant but yet it sent me backwards what seemed like five hundred steps. My heart hurts. I am reliving feelings that I never wanted to revisit.

And yet through these unwanted feelings and unwanted memories, I hear my Savior whisper oh so sweetly in my ear, “My child, all that happens to you will bear fruit if you let me use it. Let me take you through this, trust me in the depth of your being. I am always faithful, always loving. I have never led you astray before. That doesn’t mean I wanted what happened to happen tonight, but I will always come away with the victory. You are treasured, you are loved, you are my daughter. I love you my child, I love you. Let my love be enough to get you through this. Let my love be enough to carry you through these ups and downs that you know are coming. Let me love you.”

I will run to you my refuge, I will dwell on who you are, I will stay here in your presence, when things are right or when they’re wrong, for you are God unchangeable, the solid rock to which I cling, I will run to you my refuge, in your shelter find my peace.

There’s beauty in the free fall to Your arms.

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Raise Your Voice

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Over the past few months I’ve had many comments and/or questions about the tattoo on my wrist that simply states, “Raise Your Voice”. People often say it looks really nice and then ask what it means, or why I got it. Several reasons come to mind.

Firstly, I wanted a reminder for myself that God has blessed me with an able mind and body to do something about the brokenness of the people and world around me. Believers are not called to be a silent people, but it’s so easy, especially for me, to slip into a complacent quietness that seems harmless and normal. A silence that revolves around a self-centered faith. I wanted a daily reminder to live out of the overflow of love, grace, and mercy that is bestowed on me.

Secondly, I have it facing “outwards” to not only remind myself, but others who might have it catch their eye to speak up about whatever it is that breaks their/my heart. I wanted it readable with my arm in its natural position.

Thirdly, I believe that the statement “Raise Your Voice” means more than your audible voice. There are three voices that I am referring to.

Voice 1: The first voice is our audible voice. God has given us the ability to think, comprehend, and speak. We daily, hourly and minutely choose to use our voice to edify or tear down the body. We either use our voice as a self-centered megaphone (yes, this statement includes silence) or a beautiful melody proclaiming the truth about our God. We are able to speak freely about what we believe in. We can talk freely about Jesus, about injustices in the world, and are able to start movements, whether large or small, to make a difference around us. Our audible voice is the most obvious and usually most noticable.

Voice 2: The second voice is the voice of your heart. As believers we have the Holy Spirit to prompt us to do or say things. There are many times when I have felt a tug on my heart to bake cookies for someone, write them a card, pay for the persons coffee behind me, or give someone a phone call. It’s so easy to overlook or forget about the promptings we receive, but I think this “voice” sometimes speaks louder than our audible voices. Some would say that “raising the voice of your heart” is really just listening to your heart. I would agree to a certain extent. To listen is defined as to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing, to wait attentively for a sound. To raise is defined as to set into motion; activate; to put forward. To simply listen to your heart does not imply that action will follow. To raise the voice of your heart is to not simply listen to the prompting, but to put it into action and show the love of Christ. Although listening is a crucial part to raising the voice of your heart, it’s not the only part.

Voice 3: The voice or prayer. This is my favorite voice to remind myself of out of the three. I have a God who hears me. How amazing is that? I can talk to Him anytime, anywhere, and about anything. It could be the biggest decision I have to make in my life or something as simple as finding a parking spot; and He cares about both equally as much. If it’s important to me, it’s important to Him, and there’s so many things that are important to Him that need to become important to me. I want to daily pray for a heart that breaks for what breaks His. I want to intercede as often as I feel led for people in my life, places or situations. I want to be a woman of prayer. I want to remember to raise my voice in prayer to the living God- the God who hears, listens, and responds.

Will you Raise Your Voice?

It’s Not A Laundry Vent…

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I’ll let you in on a little secret: My favorite smell in the whole entire world is laundry… clean laundry. I love the way laundry detergent smells, the way the house smells when doing laundry, and I especially love smelling laundry that wafts in the air from others people’s homes when I’m out for a walk or run. Now, that may sound obsessive, but I assure you it’s not. It’s just one of those things that when I smell it, it makes me smile. It’s reminds me of wildflowers, and spring fields, birds singing and laughter. It puts me in a very happy place.

With that being said I’d like to tell you a little story. About two weeks ago I was going for a run on Centennial Trail. It was a glorious day, the sun was shining brightly and was warm on my skin. I was going past one of the hotels that line the riverfront and noticed steam coming from the side of the building. I won’t lie, I got a little excited when I saw it and assumed it was a laundry vent. A smile came to my face and I said a little thanks to God for having a little “pick me up” on my run. As I approached the steam I made sure to expel all the air in my lungs so I could get as much laundry smell in my lungs as possible. Without thinking, I took in the biggest breath I could muster, and much to my disappointment, I didn’t inhale laundry smell. No, what I encountered was far worse. I seemed to have stumbled upon the pool vent, not the laundry vent. My lungs were filled with chlorine air, and off I went into a coughing fit. I’m sure I provided great amusement for those around me (you’re welcome) and once I recovered I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, take a big breath of non-chlorinated air, and keep on moving.

Lesson learned: Just because it looks like a laundry vent, doesn’t mean it is.

The Art of Unfolding

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We are all born with a desire to be known; for someone to know our greatest fears, hopes, dreams, our little quirks and favorite things. We all crave to be known intimately, and to feel safe while being known.

Growing up in a home that was lacking in conversation and openness, the un-met longing for intimacy festered into both bitterness and myself opening up to all the wrong people. 

I opened up to people who demanded perfection of me, who were never encouraging, who crushed my hopes and dreams, who left me objectified and believing I was worthless, who used me- mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I was reading Ministering Cross-Culturally by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter and Marvin K. Mayers. It’s a very good and eye-opening book, but what caught my attention was the two categories of vulnerability. You either conceal it, or willingly share. Here are characteristics of each:

Concealment of Vulnerability

  1. Protection of self-image at all cost; avoidance of error and failure
  2. Emphasis on the quality of performance
  3. Reluctance to go beyond limits or to enter the unknown
  4. Denial of culpability; withdrawal from activities in order to hide weakness or short comings
  5. Refusal to entertain alternative views or accept criticism.
  6. Vagueness regarding personal life.

Willingness to Expose Vulnerability

  1. Relative concern about error and failure.
  2. Emphasis on completion of event/task.
  3. Willingness to push beyond one’s limits and enter the unknown.
  4. Ready admission of culpability, weakness, and shortcomings.
  5. openness to alternative views and criticism.
  6. Willingness to talk freely about personal life.

What category fits you best? I share some characteristics from both categories. I’m a people pleaser learning to put myself first. I’m learning to hold my own opinions and not base everything off of other people’s thoughts and criticism. I’m willing to step into the unknown now, and not worry about the support or lack thereof from other people. But what I want to dwell on, is the willingness to talk freely about my personal life.

Firstly, it’s not something I do. I desperately want to, but the fear of someone taking advantage of my vulnerability again has been overwhelmingly great. It’s taken me a whole semester to finally start to open up to my housemates. The other day I spoke up in class and shared a personal lesson the Lord was teaching me. It scared me beyond all belief and I was blushing like a ripe tomato, but I did it. My successes are small, but they are successes nonetheless.

I long for the day when my fear will be subdued, when I won’t be afraid to show people what things excite me, where my passion lies, or what my dreams are. I pray for the healing to come, I pray for a willing spirit to say ‘yes’ when God asks me to take those steps of faith.

You see I’m the bravest girl you will ever come to meet

Yet I shrink down to nothing at the thought of someone really seeing me

But I don’t wanna go on living, being so afraid of showing

Someone else my imperfections

And even though my feet are trembling, And every word I say comes stumbling

I will bare it all,

Watch me unfold.

I will allow someone to love me.

I will allow someone to love me.

Yet You Are

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Psalm 22:1-3

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet You are holy…”

Regardless of my emotions, the conflicts I face, what I think, where I am….

Yet You are Holy.

Yet You are Good.

Yet You are faithful.

Yet You are God.

Yet You are just.

Yet You are beautiful.

Yet You are loving.

Yet You are God.

Yet You are Redeemer.

Yet You are merciful.

Yet You are Savior.

Yet You are God.

I Said I Would Follow

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I love it when God speaks.

I don’t love it when He speaks in the middle of one of my classes.

Today during Studying and Teaching the Bible, our professor gave us a homework assignment to write a monologue from the passage of Luke 7:36-50 (the prostitute at Jesus’ feet). We could choose any character that we could somehow relate to, but he also had us read an example of a monologue that one of his students wrote a few years back. It was written from the perspective of the prostitute.

I’ll only write the first two paragraphs: “Do you see this woman? Do you see this woman?” Those words will stick with me till my dying day. No one before had ever seen me, truly seen me, my heart. I was good for one thing and no one had ever contradicted that. My value was set, my usefulness in life set out for me. I would never know anything but shame by all who looked at me. Men treated me as a business deal, paying their dues, shunning me in daylight, hiding their own shame. My life was worthless.”

In the middle of class, my past flashed before my eyes. All of his words echoed in my head and heart. All the times he ‘pushed’ me, all the times he reminded me I was nothing. All the times he affirmed that my opinions didn’t matter. I held back the tears as best as I could, but I could feel my heart breaking again.

All I could think about was how I couldn’t do this assignment, I couldn’t revisit those wounds that had almost healed. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. It was too real.

But when I stopped thinking, and let my heart and mind be still, I remembered words that I spoke almost three years ago.

Lord, where You lead me in this healing process, I will follow. I will say yes.

I told Him I would say yes. So there I was, in my seat in class, breaking heart, hiding tears, taking a deep breath, and then I said yes.

As I was walking home, God revealed to me what His intentions were for this assignment.

I wasn’t supposed to revisit the moments he hurt me, the moments he reminded me that I was nothing, the moments that he took advantage of me, all the lies he told, all the times he pretended I didn’t exist. No.

I am supposed to revisit the moment that I saw clearly for the first time, when I saw myself as Jesus sees me, when I heard Him say ‘I love you’. The moment I knew that I was fully and intimately known, and still loved. The moment I knew what love really was. The moment I remembered who Jesus was. The moment I was free from the shame, hurt, and lies. The moment when healing began.

My abuser’s words will be with me until the day I die, but my Jesus’ words speak louder. That’s a truth that isn’t always easy to remember, but one that is the most life-giving thing I have.

I said I would follow. I said I would always say yes. I will hold fast to that promise, for you are so, so good.

Letting Go of the Maple Tree

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Memorial Day 2008.

It was slightly balmy as the sun was cresting the horizon to bring forth the day I had been dreading all the week prior. I had spent all last night loading up the trailer with my best friends life. Trailer lights were checked, my truck was checked over and ready to go, we just needed to start the ignition and the changing of our lives would begin.

It was an emotionally trying week for me. I was about to lose the one person I had confided in for the past year; the one person I felt safe with. I was excited for the new ventures on her horizon, but terrified of what lay ahead for me and my heart. To add my emotional stress, shortly after we began the four-hour drive to La Crosse, I got myself a $200.00 citation. Apparently passing in a no passing zone with a 16ft trailer is highly frowned upon. Oops?

Aside from my incident with law enforcement, the trip went smoothly. We got the trailer unloaded and everything into the house. This whole time, I could feel God stirring in my spirit, trying to teach me a lesson. I had become emotionally numb by this point, and decided I needed to go for a walk to clear my head, my heart, and to simply listen to the voice of my God.

There was a park just around the corner, so I started on my way. I normally would have walked down the trail by the river, but I felt God leading me to a picnic table in the middle of the park. The air was still, and it was uncomfortably warm. I sat down, tears started falling, and I was finally honest with my emotions. I felt completely lost. Where was the next step?

There was a sudden breeze, and all of a sudden there was ‘helicopters’ falling down around me. It was literally down-pouring maple tree seeds. I heard His sweet, sweet voice calling, “Heather, you need to let go so I can plant you firmly in new soil, so your roots will be firm in My truth, so I can continue to create in you.”

Over the past three years, I’ve had several maple trees that I’ve clung to, and I’m currently clinging to one again. I never liked seeing a new maple tree in my life; I never initially liked the thought of falling away from what I deem as comfortable; but after I deal with the initial reaction, I find undeniable beauty in the free fall.